Ok, so it’s day 1, your new website has gone live. What now? If you have asked around you have probably had lots of different suggestions on internet marketing for small businesses from different people that may have had some reference to:
Google, Other Search Engines, Keywords, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Local Search, Google Adwords, paid directories like yell.com, Social Networking, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogging, Social Bookmarking, E-mail Marketing, traditional marketing like leaflets and business cards.
It makes sense to list the specific aims of your small business website marketing strategy. Also list the things that you are not trying to achieve at this point as that helps you know what to avoid spending time on.
For the purpose of this guide I am assuming you are a small business looking for work locally or an established business looking in to invest more time in to getting leads / sales from your existing site.
What You Are Aiming To Achieve From Your Internet Marketing Efforts:
- Generate Sales / Leads
- Generate them very quickly
- In a cost effective manner
What Are You Less Concerned With At This Point:
- Long Term Strategies for Generating Business Including:
- Brand Awareness
- Repeat Business from Existing Clients (if there aren’t any yet!)
- Positioning Yourself as an Industry Expert
Depending on your specific business your goals may be a bit different but please do read on.
Now we need to know, out of all the types of website marketing we have available, which ones satisfy which goals. A few points to cover first about Google, Other Search Engines and Traditional Marketing:
Google is currently the daddy of all search engines. Especially here in the UK. A lot of potential clients probably go on to Google each day and type in [your product name / service] + [where they live if applicable] e.g. “Plumber Liverpool”. If it is a product or a service that is delivered through the internet or by post then they probably won’t mention their geographical area. There are 3 ways to get traffic from Google to your website:
- Rank High in Google for what clients / customers are searching for (involves SEO, Linkbuilding)
- Have a paid advert come up for relevant searches (Google Adwords)
- Appear in the local search results (for some searches Google will show a map with local results if it believes it is applicable to that service or product. Usually tradesmen type services)
Other Search Engines
Depending on whose version of the statistics you listen to, Google gets up to 90% of all searches in the UK! Anything that helps you rank higher in Google will help with the other search engines anyway. The other search engines usually don’t get enough traffic to warrant signing up to their paid advertising, unless you are successfully spending a lot on Google’s Paid Advertising. I’d say £10,000+ a month on Google then it would be worth setting up a campaign to spend £1000 a month between Yahoo and Bing.
Having a great website is a great asset but other forms of marketing you do should stand on their own weight. You should provide enough info for people to make a buying decision without having to visit your website.
That being said, harmless ways to direct people to your website include mentioning it on any advertising you do (at the end of the ad so they can go to the site if they are still not sure), in your email signature to be included on all emails, on business cards and leaflets.
Continue To Part 2, The Table –>
Here is the table on different types of marketing and how they should be used: You have to keep it relevant and practical. People probably wont join the “Company X’s Colonic Irrigation Fan Page” but they may still add you as a Facebook friend under your personal name if they have used your service, instead of company name.
|Description||Work / Sales||Timescale||Value for money|
|SEO, Linkbuilding – This is about getting your website to come up when potential clients search for your products or services on Google or one of the other search engines. This is where most sites get most of their traffic from.||Yes, potentially a lot of work from new clients who may have never heard of you and could then recommend you to their own friends / family / contacts.||This is a slow burner. 3 – 6 months for low competition search terms. Years for more competitive markets. Usually the more business to be gained the more work to get to the top. However a good consultant will help you identify gaps in the market and quick wins.||For most companies this form of marketing has the best return on investment. The long wait stops many competitors from investing. This makes it more worthwhile. If done properly you will retain high rankings and continue to get work for 3-5+ years! Making it a great ROI in the long run and not much use to new businesses in the short term.|
|Google Adwords||Yes, lots of work and very quickly if set up and managed correctly.||Once your advertising is set up and switched on Google will usually approve yours ads within minutes and you will have new enquiries or online sales within days. This is the quickest form of marketing.||Moderate value for money 6/10. Much better if you go on to get repeat business or extra business through word of mouth marketing from these new clients. Like any industry there are cowboys out there and there are people who try to set this type of advertising up themselves. The difference being a poorly set up campaign may bring in no work at all. A well set up campaign will bring work in at a very competitive price per lead / sale.|
|Paid Directories – Usually companies that were previously producing phone books until people stopped using them||Usually not much these tend to now work very well.||As soon as your listing goes live||Usually these sites charge too much and don’t get enough traffic. A lot of them also get their traffic through SEO and paid Google Ads so you are effectively using a “middle man” that sends visitors to a page that also lists your local competitors|
|Local Search (on Google) – this is closely related to SEO / Linkbuilding. Have a look to see if a map comes up when you search for your services on Google.||Yes some (search for your product and see if a map and local listings appear)||you are looking at 3 months to a year max to get a ranking for a range of local terms.||“” Good long term value for money.|
|Social Networking on a relevant platform i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube.||A lot of people may not agree with this because social networking is a “buzz word” at the moment it is typically not much good for new businesses. People don’t buy from you just because you are on their friends list. They wont search their friends list when they are next looking for a plumber or someone to buy a car from or whatever. The real value in social networking is using it to: build brand awareness, get more from existing clients and encouraging existing clients and contacts to recommend you.||Long term given that it is based around repeat business from existing clients so the business happens when the client needs your service or product.||Moderate. Works well for companies that respond well to brand awareness. If people use your product or service at least several times a year or more. Think M&S, Coke cola, WKD, Starbucks. Companies that already have brand awareness. Works less well for services that are used very infrequently. If there are a group of people or companies that refer work to you on a regular basis then target them. E.g. target builders if you are a plastering sub contractor.|
|E-Mail Marketing||More likely to bring work when emailing offers to existing / previous clients. When targeting existing clients it will be quickly or not at all. People usually respond within a few days of receiving an email or not at all. Some campaigns may involve a series of emails.||A series of emails can also have a brand building effect.||Most campaigns don’t make much initially if targeting new business. If the clients you do get then come back for repeat business then it starts to pay of.It’s hard to make email marketing work. Some industries have no choice if their product is new and no one is searching for it. Typically it needs to be part of a larger company and is better utilised by making special offers or promoting new services to existing clients. Your email should stand on its own merit without people having to go on to your website except to actually buy online.|
|Blogging – Blogging can achieve three very beneficial marketing goals. 1) Position you as an industry expert. 2) Provide added value to existing customers through lots of useful info. 3) Bring in lots of traffic through search engines from potential clients searching for info. A good example is this guide. Potential clients of mine will find it and read it then make a decision about using a particular service which I may offer. At this point they are then in a position to buy which they weren’t prior to finding the info. This post is geared towards point 3 above. Could you do something similar on your website? Think of questions potential clients may have.||They may do but most don’t. Not a quick win. There is only room for a few thought leaders in any one industry. In some industries consumers just aren’t interested. Be honest with yourself, is someone going to read your latest post on what is happening in the vacuum cleaner / hoover industry! Blog posts can easily be sent to existing clients on a regular basis through emails and social networking sites leading to repeat business.||Takes a long time and a lot of effort to stand out from the noise and develop a following. The task is too big for a lot of companies and time would be better spent on other types of marketing.||As an industry expert you can typically charge more then competitors and you are more likely to have work referred in your direction by word of mouth from consumers and companies that have some sort of synergy with you. Also some of the extra visitors to your site that read the article may go on to enquiry. A single blog post won’t bring in masses of business but if you post on a regular basis the posts between them will pull in hundreds and eventually thousands of visitors. It is harder to quantify the value for money of this. The only cost is your time so if you have enough of it then it gets 7/10 if done properly.|
|Viral Marketing – funny youtube videos sometimes get an astronomical number of views. If the video is commercial or not very funny or shocking it usually doesn’t do so well. So usually it is within the umbrella of brand building / brand awareness.||“” same as social networking||“” there is the odd success story but they are hard to emulate as you can’t copy their idea once it has already been done.||Very little for most companies that don’t already have good brand awareness.Can be successful for some new, innovative / trendy companies.|
To summarise the table, if you can afford it then I would recommend Google Adwords to get business in quickly. If you can’t afford to buy the work in and if too many new clients really ties up your cash flow then you may have to go for a more affordable form of marketing and work towards the long term gains like blogging and SEO / linkbuilding. For a typical local small business the best course of action is.. see part 3 –>
For your typical local business the best course of action is:
From Day 1:
Google Adwords with the help of a professional to get work in quickly for a reasonable price.
Start blogging in your own time if your produce / service is topical. You may even be able to use data from Google Adwords to help give you ideas on what to write about.
The main aim of blogging at this point is to bring in traffic from search engines. Concentrate on questions that potential clients might have about your service. It is best that the blog is part of your website, not a separate site. Blogging can take a long time to build up business but the only cost is your time as you are best qualified to write about your industry.
Eventually the blog can be used to encourage people to return to your website on a regular basis and to position you as a local expert in your field. Make sure what you write is good quality. If the visitor sees you have written dribble just to get them on to your website then they will not use your services.
After 3 – 6 months:
Look in to SEO / Link Building to grow your business in an affordable long term manner. A website with high rankings that brings in work on a regular basis without much further investment or maintenance is a valuable asset for any business, even if you plan to sell the business eventually.
After 1 Year:
Once you have penetrated your market start to look at getting more work from existing clients and encouraging existing clients to talk about you and spread the word for you through social networking and maybe email marketing. Start to develop campaigns with specific aims like collecting email addresses in exchange for a free report. You can market to these email addresses at a later date. They should all be email addresses of potential clients if the free report was relevant.
Other Forms of Marketing:
Only consider them as part of an advanced marketing plan, probably when you already have good brand awareness. You probably will not be a “new” or “small” business by the time you come to use these strategies.
Every business is as unique as the people within the business so there will be lots of exceptions. Read the fourth and final part to see if any of these exceptions apply to you. Internet Marketing Exceptions –>
Every business is as unique as the people within the business so there will be lots of exceptions but as long as you understand what I have written then you should be able to make a more educated decision as to what marketing should work for your company. I will cover some of the big exceptions just in case any of them apply to you.
If you operate in a niche and there isn’t much work out there then Google Adwords probably won’t work for you. People only click on the paid ads about 10% to 20% of the time. You may have noticed this about yourself when searching the internet. Therefore if there isn’t enough work out there for you to make a living from maybe 5% of the market you probably need to consider other types of marketing. SEO / linkbuilding will help you get access to the other 80 – 90% of the traffic. Alternatively you may want to consider expanding the geographical area you operate in and offer a wider range of related services.
If your product or service is new and unique and people aren’t actively searching for your service then you would need to consider a different form of marketing that is not search based like advertising on a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn.
If you have a very specific target market like you sell a product that only Dentists use then advertising on social networking sites set so that the ads only show to these people would be a good way forward.
If you are lucky enough to work in an industry which a lot of people are interested in and is popular then you would fair better from Viral Marketing then most others but it is still risky. Check out what videos are popular on youtube. Industries like Music, Film, TV, Well known and frequently used Consumer Goods, Big Chain Retail Stores, companies that already have brand awareness or are about to spend a lot to get it. Brand awareness is an all or nothing approach; unfortunately companies often use it as an excuse for marketing that didn’t work! Like an ad in the newspaper that didn’t generate any enquiries. There is only room for a few top brands for each product / service.
If you sell information in some form and you provide some of it free through social networking and blogging then you will definitely get site visitors and followers in those areas. It is important to have a strategy from the outset on how to turn these followers in to customers / clients. It may not be hard once they have been following you for a while and have trust in you. Sometimes you just need to remember to ask.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions please submit a comment or email me.